Afro-Dominican (Dominican Republic)
Dominicans of full or predominant African ancestry
(11% of the Dominican population)[nb 1]
|majority Dominican Spanish · minority English (Samaná English)|
|Predominantly Roman Catholicism
minority Protestantism and African traditional religions,
|Related ethnic groups|
|Dominican people, other Afro-Latin Americans, Afro-Haitian, Afro-Puerto Rican, Afro-Cuban, African people|
Afro-Dominican or Black Dominican is a term which can be defined as a Dominican of full or predominant Black African ancestry, which is represented by 11% of the Dominican population. Since the Dominican Republic is a very ethnically and racially diverse nation and the majority of the Dominican population is made up of mixed race persons, those who are mixed with African ancestry (73% of the population) would usually not be identified as being an Afro-Latino in the Dominican Republic, but would in the United States. The majority of Afro-Dominicans descend from West Africans and Central Africans who arrived from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century as a result of slavery, while many others descend from immigrants who came from the Lesser Antilles during the 20th century.
Currently there are also many black immigrants, particularly Haitians, who can be included within the Afro-Dominican demographics if they were born in the country or have Dominican naturalization. Afro-Dominicans of predominant African descent make up a significant minority of the country's population, with Dominicans of mixed or partial African ancestry making up the vast majority of the population.
- 1 History
- 2 Origins of the slaves
- 3 Demography
- 4 Racial discrimination and consciousness
- 5 Cultural Contributions
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
In 1503, with the conquest and colonization of the island, the Spanish began to import large numbers of African slaves to replace the native labor, greatly reduced by wars, brutal working conditions and epidemics. About 80 or 90% of the native population died in the first century of the conquest. Meanwhile, between 1492 and 1870, some 30,000 Africans were imported to the current Dominican territory to work in the sugar industry.
In 1503, the first African slaves arrived to the Española Island, mostly in the present Dominican Republic, since Spain had largely neglected the west of the island. The first slaves were Black Ladinos, i.e. born in Spain and Christianized. They arrived as servants for the homes of the island´s Spanish elite. However, the number of slaves imported to the island was already sufficient to support small rebellions, and the Africans who escaped to the mountains lived with the indigenous people in shelters away from urban centers. Even so, in 1510, 250 more Ladino slaves were imported to the island. In 1511, 5,000 African slaves arrived. With the establishment of the world's first sugar mill on the Española island in 1516, the importation of African slaves greatly increased. As trade intensified and colonial authorities demanded more slave labor for plantations and housekeeping work, the island saw the introduction of black "bozales", slaves imported directly from Africa.
In 1522, the first major slave rebellion was led by 20 Senegalese Muslims of Wolof origin, in an ingenio (sugar factory) east of Santo Domingo island Many of the insurgents fled to the mountains and established what would become the first autonomous African Maroon community in America. With the success of this revolt, slave revolts continued and leaders emerged among the African slaves, including people already baptized Christian by the Spanish, as was the case of Juan Vaquero, Diego de Guzmán and Diego del Campo. The rebellions and subsequent escapes led to the establishment of African communities in the southwest, north and east of the island, including the first communities of African ex-slaves in the current Haiti. (Although this part of the island was also Spanish until 1697, when it was sold to France, there were no Spanish people living in it). This caused some concern among slaveholders and contributed to the Spanish emigration to other places. Even as sugarcane increased profitability in the island, the number of escaped Africans continued to rise, mixing with Taíno people of these regions, and by 1530, Maroon bands were considered dangerous to the Spanish colonists, who traveled in large armed groups outside the plantations and left the mountainous regions to the Maroons (until 1654 with the conquest of Jamaica by the Corsairs of British Admiral William Penn and general Robert Venables).
With the discovery of precious metals in South America, the Spanish abandoned their migration to the island of Santo Domingo to emigrate to South America and Mexico in order to get rich, for they did not find much wealth in Santo Domingo. Thus, they also abandoned the slave trade to the island, which led to the collapse of the colony into poverty. Still, during those years, slaves were used to build a cathedral that in time became the most oldest in America. They build the monastery, first hospital and the Alcázar de Colón, and the Puerta de las Lamentaciones (in Spanish: Gate of Mercy). In the 1540s, Spanish authorities ordered the African slaves building a wall to defend the city from attacks by pirates who ravaged the islands.
After 1700, with the arrival of new Spanish colonists, the African slave trade resumed. However, as industry moved from sugar to livestock, racial and caste divisions became less important, eventually leading to a blend of cultures—Spanish, African, and indigenous—which would form the basis of national identity for Dominicans. It is estimated that the population of the colony in 1777 was 400,000, of which 100,000 were Europeans and Criollos, 60,000 African, 100.000 mestizo s, 60,000 Zambos and 100,000 mulatto.
At the end of the eighteenth century, fugitive African slaves from the French colony of the western part of the island fled to Spanish Santo Domingo and formed communities such as San Lorenzo de Los Mina, now part of the city of Santo Domingo. Fugitives arrived from other parts of the West Indies as well, especially from the Lesser Antilles, dominated by French, English, Dutch, etc.
In 1801, Haitian leader Toussaint Louverture, in the east of Santo Domingo, abolished slavery, freeing about 40,000 slaves, and prompting much of the elite of that part of the island to flee to Cuba and Puerto Rico. However, when the Spanish recovered the area, Spanish Santo Domingo re-established slavery in 1809. At the same time, the French governor Ferrand imported a second group of Haitian slaves to build the French colonial enclave Puerto Napoleon (Samana).
In 1824, African American freed people began to arrive in Santo Domingo, benefiting from the favorable pro-African immigration policy of Haitian president Jean-Pierre Boyer since 1822. Called Samaná Americans, they settled in Puerto Plata Province and the Samaná Peninsula —then under Haitian administration.
Between the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, black laborers from the British West Indies came to work in the sugar plantations on the east of the island. Their descendants are known today by the name of Cocolos.
After, many Haitian people began to settle in the Dominican Republic, a migration that has continued until today.
Origins of the slaves
|Region of embarkment, 1503–1870||Amount %|
|Sierra Leone (Zape)||4.5|
|Gold Coast (Akan, Bran)||5.5|
|Bight of Benin (Yoruba, Aja, Terranova)||12.4|
|Bight of Biafra (Igbo, Kalabari||16.1|
|West-central Africa (Kongo, Mbundu)||47.0|
The slave trade involved nearly all of Africa's west coast inhabitants to be forcibly taken to the new world. Most slaves tended to come from mostly the Kongo people of West-Central Africa (present-day Angola, Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo), along with the Igbo (originating from west from Nigeria), Yoruba, Akan and Mandinka tribes.
Others African ethnic groups arrived to Spanish Santo Domingo during the slavery´s period were: Wolof (imported from Senegal), Aja (also called Ararás in Santo Domingo and imported from Dahomey, current Benin), Ambundu (from the Kingdom of Ndongo, in north Angola), Bran (originating from Brong-Ahafo Region, west from Ghana), Fulbe, Kalabari (originating from slave port from Calabar, in Nigeria), Terranova (slaves bought probably in Porto-Novo, Benin), Zape (originating from Sierra Leone), Bambara and Biafada (this latter was originating from Guinea-Bissau) people.
The Wolof were imported to Spanish Santo Domingo from Senegal in the first half of the sixteenth century, until the import of this ethnic group was prohibited after his rebellion in 1522. Many of the slaves were also Ajas, usually taken in Whydah, Benin. The Ajas arrived in Santo Domingo, were well known for having made religious brotherhoods, integrated exclusively for them, as the call San Cosme and San Damian.
The National Institute of Statistics (INE) does not collect racial data since the Census of 1960. In that census, the ethnic features were obtained by direct observation of the people registered by the enumerator, without any questions asked. About 73% of the population was classified as mestizo (note that in the 1920, 1935, 1950 and 1960 censuses referred to mixed-race people as mestizo, never as mulatto), 16% was classified as white, and 11% was classified as black (1,795,000 of people). It is estimated, that between 70-90 percent of Dominicans have African ancestry. Dominican Republic is one of the few countries in the world where the majority of the population is made up of Mulattoes (African/European mixed). So based on these figures, people who self-identify as black or as being "mixed with black" are at least 86% of the population, numbering at about 8,518,000 people.
Although, most of Black Dominicans are descendants of slaves imported to the country and who speak Spanish, there are also two Afro communities that have English as their mother tongue: Samaná Americans and Cocolos. Samaná Americans from the Samaná Peninsula, are descendants, of freed slaves from the United States, who entered the country in 1824 when it was under Haitian rule, because of the favorable pro-African immigration policy of Haitian president Jean-Pierre Boyer, constitute the most sizable group of native English speakers in the Dominican Republic. Aware of its distinctive heritage, the community, whose singular culture distinguishes them from the rest of Dominicans, refers to itself as Samaná Americans, and is referred to by fellow Dominicans as "los americanos de Samaná". Another Afro group is the called Cocolo, descendants of those who came to the island from the English-speaking islands in the eastern Caribbean to work in the sugar plantations in the eastern part of the island between the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, they have formed communities in San Pedro de Macorís and La Romana. It is also important to note, the large population of people of Haitian origin, which is the largest immigrant community in the country and is formed, according to some estimates, by more than 800,000 people.
The 1920 Census registered 8,305 West Indians born abroad (they and their descendants are known as Cocolos) and 28,258 Haitians; the 1935 Census registered almost 9,272 West Indians and 52,657 Haitians. The Haitian population decreased to 18,772 in the 1950 Census, as an aftermath of the Parsley Massacre.
Though, African ancestry is prevalent throughout the Dominican Republic, it is most common in eastern areas such as San Pedro de Macorís, La Romana, and the Samaná Peninsula, as well as along the Haitian border, particularly the southern parts of the border region. However, it is least prevalent in the Cibao Valley (especially within the Sierra de Zamba region), and to a lesser extent, in some rural communities in El Seibo and La Altagracia provinces, and the western half of the National District as well.
Dominicans of African-Antillean and African-American ancestry lives concentrated in Puerto Plata, Samaná, Hato Mayor (specially in Sabana de la Mar, Guayabo Dulce-Los Hatillos, and Matapalacio), San Pedro de Macorís, La Romana and La Altagracia (particularly in Punta Cana and Bávaro) provinces.
Dominicans of Haitian ancestry lives scattered across the country, however, it may be note communities in the border provinces of Elías Piña and Independence where they predominate among the population, highlighting the presence of European football fields, a very popular sport in Haiti.
Haitian immigration is the most important of the immigrations to the Dominican Republic since its independence.
Haiti is much poorer than the Dominican Republic. So, in 2003, 80% of all Haitians were poor (54% in extreme poverty) and 47.1% were illiterate. The country of nine million people has a fast-growing population, but over two-thirds of the jobs lack the formal workforce. Haiti's GDP per capita was $1,300 in 2008, or less than one-sixth of the Dominican figure. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Haitians have migrated to the Dominican Republic, with some estimates of 800,000 Haitians in the country, while others believe they are more than a million. Usually working in low paid and unskilled in building construction, household cleaning, and in plantations.
Children of illegal Haitian immigrants are often stateless s and they are denied services, as their parents are denied Dominican nationality, and therefore are considered transient residents, due to their illegal status and undocumented, and children often have to choose only Haitian nationality.
A large number of Haitian women, often arriving with several health problems, cross the border to Dominican soil during their last weeks of pregnancy to obtain necessary medical care for childbirth, since Dominican public hospitals cannot deny medical services based on nationality or legal status. Statistics from a hospital in Santo Domingo report that over 22% of births are to mothers.
Initially, Haiti was richer than the Dominican Republic. However, the lack of free lands in Haiti, as it was hold in a small group of landlords, motivated Haitian peasants to settle in the borderland region, within the Dominican Republic. Through the years, especially after 1899, the Haitian government claimed the territory populated by Haitians, and under a treaty in 1929 several towns and cities in Central Hispaniola officially became Haitian, comprising 4,572 km2. A Dominican census in 1935 revealed that 3.6% of the population was Haitian. In 1936, the Haitian government claimed more territory and the Dominican Republic ceded another 1,628 km2 to Haiti; the next year, the Dominican dictatorship ordered the Dominicanization of the border (Spanish: Dominicanización fronteriza) and conducted the Parsley Massacre.
In 1937, Trujillo, in an event known as the Spanish: Masacre del Perejil (Parsley Massacre), ordered the Army to kill Haitians living on the border because, according it is believed, to his rejection to Haitians due he believed they were of a "inferior race" and his desire to try to stop its massive emigration to his country (however, actually were other factors, both political and economic that led the tyrant to grant enforcement of genocide). The Army killed about 17,000 to 35,000 Haitians over six days, from the night of October 2, 1937 to October 8, 1937. To avoid leaving evidence of the Army's involvement, the soldiers used machetes instead of bullets. The soldiers of Trujillo interrogated anyone with dark skin, using the shibboleth "parsley" to differentiate Haitians from Dominicans when necessary, the "r" of parsley was difficult pronunciation for Haitians. As a result of the slaughter, the Dominican Republic agreed pay to Haiti the amount of $750,000, later reduced to $525,000. The genocide sought to be justified on the pretext of fearing infiltration, but was actually also a retaliation, commented on both in national currencies, as well as having been informed by the Military Intelligence Service (the dreaded SIM), the government Haitian cooperating with a plan that sought to overthrow Dominican exiles.
In 2005 Dominican President Leonel Fernández criticized collective expulsions of Haitians were "improperly and inhumane." After a delegation from the United Nations issued a preliminary report stating that it found a profound problem of racism and discrimination against people of Haitian origin, the Chancellor Dominican Carlos Morales Troncoso gave a formal statement saying "Our border with Haiti has its problems, this is our reality, and this must be understood. It's important not to confuse national sovereignty with indifference, and not to confuse security with xenophobia "
After the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, the number of Haitians doubled to 2 million, most of them illegally crossed after the border opened for international aid. Human Rights Watch estimated in 70,000 Haitian immigrants legal and 1,930,000 illegal living in Dominican Republic.
Racial discrimination and consciousness
The colonial and political events in the Dominican Republic, sometimes directed against Black and mulatto Afro Dominicans, have left their mark on this country, causing, apparently, a rejection of many Afro-Dominicans to the "blackness" and preferring the Caucasian origin of most of them (the great majority of Dominicans are mulattoes) that black origin.
So, the reasons that are used to explain the why many Black Afro Dominicans reject their skin color are many: In the Spanish colonial period, the Spanish not only enslaved blacks, but also considered them inferior, in a system of racial stratification, and so they did it know, as in other parts of the Spanish Empire. That idea of black inferiority compared to the white was assumed by the whites and, because of their proslavery and, sometimes aggressive behavior with blacks, eventually would also be assumed by them, into believing, also, that their culture was superior to the cultures them and subjeting them to same (although many Afro-Dominican were able to maintain his cultures). Also, during the rule of Haiti (1822–44), the government of this country developed a black centrism, centrism that Dominicans refused. Moreover, Haitians made them feel to Dominicans as a distinct people racially, culturally and linguistically, while forbidding them to them use their customs. Dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, who ruled between 1930 and 1961, tenaciously promoted the anti-Haitian sentiment and used racial persecution and nationalistic fervor against Haitians. He is considered blamed for creating the many racial categories that avoided the use of the word "black" and, in 1955, he promotes an emigration from Spain to his country for "whiten" the population, increasing the white population over the black population, which he considered inferior.
The practice continued under President Joaquín Balaguer, who often complained that Haitian immigration in the Dominican Republic was the country blackening (remember that most Haitians are black, while Dominicans are mulattoes, are lighter skinned). In 1990, he was blamed for blocking the presidential aspirations of leading black candidate José Francisco Peña Gómez, spreading rumors that he was actually Haitian.
An envoy of the UN in October 2007 found that there was racism against blacks in general, and particularly against Haitians, which proliferate in every segment of Dominican society. According to a study conducted by the Dominican Studies Institute CUNY, about 90% of the contemporary Dominican population has ancestry from West and Central Africa in different degrees. However, most Dominicans do not identify themselves as black, in contrast to people of West or Central African descent of other countries. A variety of terms are used to represent a range of skin tones, such as moreno / a, canelo / a Indian / a white dark / a and swarthy / a.
Ramona Hernández, director of the Dominican Studies Institute at City College of New York asserts that the terms were originally a defense against racism: "During the Trujillo regime, people who had dark skin were rejected, so they created their own mechanism to fight against the rejection".
By most estimates, 90 percent of Dominicans are black or mulatto. However, census figures indicate that only 11 percent of the nine million inhabitants of the country is black. Many Dominicans believe that being black is to be Haitian. So, most of Afro-Dominicans tend to describe themselves as any of a dozen racial categories that date back hundreds of years: Indian, burned Indian, dirty Indian or washed, black Indian, cinnamon, moreno or mulatto. But almost never black.
African cultural remnants seen in Santo Domingo in many different aspects: music, dance, magic-religious beliefs, cuisine, economy, entertainment, motor habits, language, etc.
The African influence in the Dominican language is strong especially in the phonetics, grammar, and syntax, it is still possible to trace many words imported black slave and have entered the popular lexicon. A large part of these words is common to other West Indian countries such as Cuba and Puerto Rico. We cite, among others, the words bemba, bachata, guineo, quimbamba, añangotarse, etc.
Perhaps the greatest influence of African slaves is observed in music and dance. Such influence comes from the dances, that like the calenda, practiced in Santo Domingo, as elsewhere in America, from the early years of slavery. We must Father Labat, who toured the West Indies in the eighteenth century, a fairly thorough calenda.
This dance derives, according to research by the folklorist Fradique Lizardo, several Dominican popular rhythms. One of the most widespread is the Música de palos (Music of sticks), name that designates both the pace and the membranophones used. National Rhythms with obvious African imprint are sarandunga, Música de Gagá (Ganga's music, arrived from Haiti), Baile de Palos (dance of Sticks), Música de Congos (Music of Congos), Cantos de Hacha (Songs of axe), los congos, la jaiba (the crab), el chenche matriculado (the chenche enrolled), etc. The salve, which in the words of the American ethnomusicologist Martha Davis, is the most typical of the traditional genres Dominicans, has two styles: one distinctly Spanish, amétrico and antiphonal, and another polyrhythmic, strongly hybridized between the Spanish and African styles. Among African instruments include los palos (the sticks), balsié, the gallumba, etc.
It is important to also mark other musical instruments Dominicans of African origin such as the Palo mayor (mainmast), the canoita, los timbales (present in the bachata, also called bongos), and the tambora (Key instrument in the merengue music, the Dominican national dance).
For his part, the Bachata is a hybrid of the bolero (especially the bolero rhythm) of the Dominican Republic with other musical influences of African origin and other musical styles like the son, the merengue and the chachachá.
On the other hand, there are also music genres Dominican widespread across the country, whose origin is uncertain, being considered of Spanish and African origin, depending of musicologists and historians. Such is the case of the merengue music. So, Luis Alberti, one of the musicians considered as fathers of Merengue, thinks that the roots of this music genre are purely Spanish. F. Lizardo, Dominican folklorist, by contrast, thinks that this origin is in the Bara tribe of Madagascar, who came to the island in the eighteenth century and brought a dance called Merengue that has spread throughout the Caribbean. A very similar pace, adds Lizardo, arrived today with the Yoruba of Dahomey. In the African polyrhythm was also the Merengue. Also often linked to the origin of Merengue a dance called URPA or UPA, a native of Havana and arrived in the Dominican Republic between 1838 and 1849. The dace sailed through the Caribbean coming to Puerto Rico where he was well received. One of the movements of this dance is called merengue which apparently is the way selected to call the dance, and came to the Dominican Republic where he evolved into the genre of Merengue. However, the Cuban UPA is also a dance whose origin appears to be in West Africa. In fact, in early ls, despite its rise among the masses, the upper class did not accept the Merengue for long, because apparently, their connection with African music. Another cause that weighed on the repudiation and attacks the Merengue were literary texts that accompany it, usually risqué.
Dominican folk music is intimately tied to religious culture, and interpreted primarily in the fiesta de santos (party of saints), also known, according the area of the country, as velaciones (vigils), velas (candles) o noches de vela (sleepless nights). Other popular rhythms are obvious Spanish origin, as mangulina and carabiné.
Although most Afro-Dominican are Roman Catholics, magical-religious beliefs prevails among Dominicans. Layers reflect African Christian syncretism operated since colonial times. The most characteristic feature is the Dominican voodoo that relates directly to the magical activity.
The Dominican magic is a collection of beliefs and rituals of African and European origin. The classic witches and characteristics that surround them are Spanish. From Europe comes the superstition of the evil eye, the alleged existence of loup-garou and numerous spells and charms, not to mention most of divination.
Funeral rites contain many features of African descent that are shared with other American countries. A typical example is the baquiní o velorio del angelito.
Institutions and cuisine
In the economic field include various institutions of mutual aid, existing both in the fields and in the cities. In rural areas, these institutions are in the form of groups of farmers who come together to collaborate on certain agricultural tasks such as planting, clearing of forests, land preparation, etc. Are called juntas (boards) o convites and have similar characteristics to Haitian combite closely related to the dokpwe of the Fon people of Dahomey. These tasks are accompanied by songs and musical instruments that serve as encouragement and coordination at work. All board members are required to reciprocate the assistance and collaboration in the work of others. After the day is a festival that is the responsibility of the landowner.
Another institution of mutual aid, of African origin, is revolving credit system that goes by the name of St. corresponding to esusu and Yoruba. As in Nigeria and other parts of Afroamerica, the San is composed preferably female. It consists, as is well known, in the establishment of a common fund to which each participant's San, contributes with a sum monthly or weekly. Each partner receives, on a rotating basis, the total value of the box, starting with the organized.
Dominican cuisine and dishes containing products of African origin. Among the former are the guandul, the ñame and the funde. Typical African dishes seem to be the mofongo, prepared with green bananas and derivatives cocola kitchen, the fungí and the calalú. A common drink among the black slaves was the guarapo, which is derived from sugar cane juice.
Amusements and Language
The Cocolos, descendants of black immigrants from the British West Indies, originated some amusement as the practiced by Buloyas or Guloyas and Momis, both in the eastern town of San Pedro de Macoris. The first, according to general opinion, are groups of masks depicting, although of form very degraded, scenes of biblical battle between David and Goliath. The other is a remnant of the English traditions of Mummers Play, brought to the Caribbean islands by the British colonial rulers, plays that were staged at Christmas. The Momis, according Martha Davis, have an aspect of carnival which warn African influences, especially in the costumes and the behavior of its members.
Certain playground practiced until recently have been reported by the investigator Veloz Maggiolo as of African origin. They are the fufu, made up of a large button and a thread that goes through two holes of the button, the castanets of sticks, the horn, made from a box of phosphorus and a "cajita" ("little box").
The African influence in the Dominican language is very noticeable, especially in the phonetics, vocabulary and syntax, it is still also possible to trace many words imported black slave and have entered the popular lexicon. Many of these words are common to other West Indian countries such as Cuba and Puerto Rico. We cite, among others, the voices Bemba, bachata, banana, Quimbamba, añangotarse, etc.
African slaves were forced to build a cathedral that in time became the most oldest in America. They build their monastery, first hospital and the Alcázar de Colón. In the 1540s, the Spanish authorities ordered the African slaves building a wall to defend the city from attacks by pirates who ravaged the islands. They also built the Puerta de las Lamentaciones (in Spanish: Gate of wailing).
- Samaná Americans
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